By Al Beeber on July 24, 2021.
It looks like the proposed disc golf course at Peenaquim Park isn’t ready to fly yet judging by a story in The Herald last week.
As you may be aware, city council recently became involved in this issue when a person involved with the disc golf association was asked to make a presentation to council without advance notice being given to the agenda committee.
According to the story, members of city administration were asked about the proposal during that meeting. Councillor Doug Miyashiro, said the story, asked why the matter was even on the agenda since the proposal hadn’t been previously brought to the attention of city council.
It’s a good question – according to the story, in June of 2020 the local disc golf association working in conjunction with the parks department, identified an area of Peenaquim that would be compatible for such use.
That’s nearly a full year before users of Peenaquim were surprised to see a sign posted at the park announcing the golf course.That’s a year with no consultations with the public or city council about another potential use for the park.
According to The Herald story, city manager Craig Dalton said “I think there is no policy for a formal delegation of authority with respect to park uses.”
Well maybe there should be. After all, parks are for the use of everyone and given how popular Peenaquim is with dog walkers and nature enthusiasts, public consultation perhaps should have been done. Perhaps city council members at least, of all people, should have been informed in advance.
When I first saw the sign after being alerted about it, one city council member told me he never even knew about the plan.
City council should know what’s going on in the city that its members were theoretically elected to run. While obviously they can’t, and shouldn’t have to manage every single aspect of city life – much of that being the job of administration, they deserve to be notified of matters of potential public interest.
It seems city administration dropped the ball – or disc – on this issue and the anger of people who found out about the proposal via a sign are surely going to be even more infuriated now that they’ve learned our elected officials didn’t even know about the plan.
There are some problematic issues with the golf course being adjacent to a dog park, one of them being the potential conflict between off-leash animals and flying discs. If there are no physical barriers between dog park and golf course, dogs may chase discs, just as they might a softball if one was hit out of the nearly ballpark. They may just venture over after catching a scent that attracts them.
This has nothing to do with dogs not being in control by their owners, contrary to what some think, but rather normal canine behaviour.
City administration would have learned of this potential conflict if they had consulted with the public. Dog walkers can’t reasonably be expected to put their animals on-leash if there are no barriers between dog park and disc golf park. That’s completely unrealistic and I guarantee nobody will do it. And good luck enforcing a rule if one is put in place.
The city might as well just ban dogs from Peenaquim south of the main walking path north of the parking lot, a space which is too small given the popularity of the park, and which doesn’t have easy access to the Oldman given the steep river bank.
And what about washroom facilities, maintenance and parking? Those cost money and how much will the taxpayer be on the hook? City council needs to address those, as well.
And of course there’s the environmental impact. Certainly a study should be done before the course is approved. What kind of wildlife, including nesting birds, could be impacted? We don’t know because a study hasn’t been conducted.
Here’s a potential, albeit somewhat farfetched, solution to this matter: build a small disc golf course at Galt Gardens. It has washroom facilities, plenty of space and lots of nearby parking.
Certainly there would be conflicts with weekend events such as festivals but those might be less often than conflicts with dog walkers.
To attract people downtown, a block of parking could be made free so disc golfers could play without paying a fee. Not only would Galt Gardens get more use when other events aren’t being staged, but the course would bring people to the city’s downtown core and expose them to the dining, shopping and arts options there.
Of course, some will laugh about this idea and I’m not saying it’s the best one I’ve ever come up with, but some would say the idea of disc golf at Peenaquim isn’t so great either.
Galt Gardens is roomy, shaded and has washrooms and parking. How much money would the City lose by creating some free parking and what potential financial benefit would that bring to the downtown core? It’s worth considering if revitalizing downtown is so vital to the city.
City council definitely needs to take a closer look at the disc golf issue. And we taxpayers need to know who is truly running the show here – our elected officials or bureaucrats whose salaries – by the way – are paid by our tax dollars.
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